Cuban missile crisis and The bay of pigs

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Last updated: November 13, 2019

In January 1961, the USA broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. This caused Castro to think the USA were about to invade.

It was clear that the USA would no longer accept a Soviet satellite at the heart of its sphere of influence. In April 1961, President Kennedy supplied equipment to 1400 anti-Castro fighters so that they could invade Cuba and overthrow him. The fighters landed at the Bay of Pigs and were met by 20,000 Cuban troops armed with modern weapons and tanks. The invasion was a huge disaster and Castro captured or killed all the fighters within a few days.On the 14th of October 1962 Americas spy plane U-2 flew over Cuba and took photographs of what appeared to be nuclear missile sights that were clearly being built by the USSR. More photos from the following days showed that some of the sites were finished whilst others were still being built. Army experts said that the most advanced of the bases could launch missiles in just one week. There were also reports of around 20 Soviet ships sailing towards Cuba carrying nuclear missiles.

Kennedy was informed of the situation on the 16th of October. He had 5 options of things to do in this situation. One option was to do nothing that was disbanded as to do nothing would be a sign of weakness.

He could also create diplomatic pressure but if the USA were forced to back down, it would be another sign of weakness. Invasion and air attacks were other options but destruction of all the sights could not be guaranteed and to attack without advance was seen as immoral. In addition, there was almost definitely a Soviet equivalent response to protect Cuba from invasion. A blockade was Kennedy’s last option. He picked it because it would show that the USA was serious but it would not be a direct act of war. It would also put pressure on Khrushchev to act next.

The USA had a strong navy and could still use the other options if this idea did not work.To an extent I agree with the statement “The most important reason why the Cuban Missile crisis was solved was because the USSR was weaker that the USA”. I think that there was a mixture of important reasons for the ending of the Cuban Missile crisis which lead to the point of the USSR being weaker than the USA.One was due to the quick thinking of Kennedy on hearing the news of missiles on Cuba. It took Kennedy just 4 days to pick which action he should take. Upon hearing the news of missiles on Cuba Kennedy quickly assembled a special team of advisors who then came up with a number of choices of what to do. This shows they were stronger than the USSR as heThis links to a second reason why the crisis was solved.

It was not just Kennedy’s quick thinking but also the way in which he prevented the crisis from continuing. Kennedy had several options of what to do about the problem and had the audacity to pick the correct one for the situation which was to create a blockade around Cuba. He picked this in a diplomatic fashion so that it was not a direct act of war but it still showed that America was serious about the situation. This showed that America was tactful and not weak-willed.The fact that the USSR was weaker than the USA was displayed towards the end of the crisis. Both Khrushchev and Kennedy were writing personal letters to each other during the week of the blockade.

The letters from Khrushchev began hostile saying that the USSR would only remove the missiles from Cuba on the condition that the USA removed its missiles from Turkey. When Kennedy ignores this letter and retaliates with the threat of violence Khrushchev backs down saying that he will remove the weaponry from Cuba. This shows that America did not follow a policy of appeasementHowever, to an extent I disagree with the statement. This is because the Americans should not have let the USSR put them in that situation in the first place. By the time the Americans discovered the problems they were already in a situation of mutually assured destruction (MAD). If fact it would appear that one of the main reasons the crisis was solved was because Khrushchev did not want conflict whilst Kennedy did not offer a solution of peace but rather a suggestion of violence.

This showed that the USSR was not as weak as they first appeared and it was only due to the offer to back down in order to keep the peace that the crisis ended.I also think that it wasn’t the fact the USSR were weaker than the USA it was just that the USA put off the problem from getting worse rather than solving it. Kennedy’s idea of a blockade, whilst being a very good idea, did not actually address the problem it just stopped it from worsening which links to the idea that it was not the weakness of the USSR that solved the Cuban Missile crisis but the fact that the USA was skilled at preventing the problem from getting worse.To a certain extent I disagree with the title as it was not the idea that the USSR were weaker than the USA it was the idea that the USA were just good at getting themselves out of tricky situations. However, to a greater extent I agree with the statement as it was only due to Khrushchev backing down that the crisis ended.

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